Almond Growers’ Spirits Are High At Annual Meeting

Honeybees_generic

Almond growers were in a celebratory mood during the Almond Board of California’s annual conference, held last Wednesday and Thursday in Modesto. And why not? Not only did they have a limb-busting record crop — the fourth time they’ve set the record in the past seven years — but prices are holding firm.

Now they can take a deep breath as bearing acreage has finally leveled off at 750,000 acres, said Chico grower Dan Cummings, a partner in Cummings-Violich, Inc., one of American/Western Fruit Grower’s Top Nut Growers. Cummings noted in his “Cummings Report” that in October, for the first time in history, monthly shipments topped 200 million pounds. Shipments to Asia have been especially strong, he said, up 30% from last October and 19% year to date. Growers are understandably concerned about Europe’s economic problems, but so far so good.

“Growers are generally happy for now; market prices are holding firm even with a 20% increase in production (meaning 20% more revenue per acre and strong cash flow), bearing acreage growth rates are moderating, consumption is growing, and almonds are still far and away the best value tree nut,” Cummings reported. “Next year’s crop is unlikely to equal the tremendous record 2,600 pounds per acre forecast for this year, thus demand is gaining on supply with improving prices. No surprise then that nurseries are reporting record sales and orders of new trees!”

The almond industry is highly dependent on honey bees brought in from the Midwest for pollination. In fact, at the conference’s annual update on honey bee health and supply, Ned Euliss of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center noted that 80% of the nation’s pollinated crops are dependent on bees that spend summers on the Northern Great Plains, mainly North Dakota. Of the 1 million colonies that summer in North Dakota, 85% are brought to California each February for almond bloom.

The value of all the honey produced in the U.S. each year is only slightly more than their almond pollination value, said Cummings, who has an unusual perspective, as he’s one of the few almond growers who is also a beekeeper. While industry prospects are bright, it’s not all good news. Cummings noted that the mysterious honey bee malady, Colony Collapse Disorder, is still routinely causing losses in the neighborhood of 30%.

Two potential alternatives to honey bees both have their good and bad aspects, Cummings noted. Blue orchard bees are excellent pollinators, perhaps even better than honey bees because of their willingness to fly even when temperatures drop — a key attribute for growers of almonds, the first of the orchard crops to be pollinated each year — but they cost slightly more. While honey bees run an average of $300 per acre, based on a two-colony-per-acre average, blue orchard bees cost $350 per acre. In addition to costing a bit more, Cummings said blue orchard bees are more sensitive to crop protection products. “They’re not a replacement for honey bees yet,” he concluded.

Another alternative is self-fertile almond trees. (Perhaps the best known variety is the Independence almond, which was developed by Zaiger Genetics of Modesto, and is marketed by Dave Wilson Nursery. It was featured in the Nov./Dec. issue of American/Western Fruit Grower magazine, and that story can be found by clicking here. There are now 5,000 to 7,000 acres of self-fertile trees in the ground, said Cummings, but the jury is still out. “There’s a lot more to be learned,” he said, “but this is an area that holds promise for the almond industry.”

Leave a Reply

Nuts Stories

IrrigationAlmond Grower Honored For Water Efficiency
November 18, 2014
Ongoing drought highlights the efforts of third-generation Madera County grower Tom Rogers. Read More
FruitsWestern Growers Frustrated By Shutdown Of Ports
November 14, 2014
Pacific Maritime Association is accusing union of intentional work slowdown. Read More
NutsWalnut Thefts Down Thanks To New Measures
November 12, 2014
Officials say first major walnut theft in year occurred this week. Read More
NutsCommunication Key For The Pollination Of Almonds
November 11, 2014
Every communication link is critical when it comes to almonds and honey bees. Read More
NutsTaking A Closer Look At Walnut Scale
November 11, 2014
Close examination of the scale activity on the young wood and scaffolds will show a very high percentage of parasitism. Read More
NutsHeard Of The Tree Of 40 Fruit?
November 11, 2014
Sculptor brings new meaning to grafting as an art form. Read More
NutsTips To Keep Bees Safe When Using Pesticides
November 10, 2014
Here are six precautions for applicators to follow from the Almond Board. Read More

The Latest

NutsWatch Your Almonds’ Salt Intake
November 24, 2014
Because of the current California drought, almond growers must pay extra attention to soil salinity. Read More
CitrusIndustry Organizations Sound Off On President’s Immig…
November 21, 2014
Agriculture is not given the attention it so sorely deserves when it comes to the immigration debate. Read More
NutsArizona Pistachio And Pecan Growers Benefiting From Hig…
November 21, 2014
Pecan production alone is expected to double in the next 10 years. Read More
IrrigationAlmond Grower Honored For Water Efficiency
November 18, 2014
Ongoing drought highlights the efforts of third-generation Madera County grower Tom Rogers. Read More
FruitsWestern Growers Frustrated By Shutdown Of Ports
November 14, 2014
Pacific Maritime Association is accusing union of intentional work slowdown. Read More
NutsWalnut Thefts Down Thanks To New Measures
November 12, 2014
Officials say first major walnut theft in year occurred this week. Read More
NutsCommunication Key For The Pollination Of Almonds
November 11, 2014
Every communication link is critical when it comes to almonds and honey bees. Read More
NutsTaking A Closer Look At Walnut Scale
November 11, 2014
Close examination of the scale activity on the young wood and scaffolds will show a very high percentage of parasitism. Read More
NutsHeard Of The Tree Of 40 Fruit?
November 11, 2014
Sculptor brings new meaning to grafting as an art form. Read More
NutsTips To Keep Bees Safe When Using Pesticides
November 10, 2014
Here are six precautions for applicators to follow from the Almond Board. Read More
NutsTop 10 Honey Bee BMPs
November 10, 2014
This list will not only help ensure bee health, it can make you a more profitable grower. Read More
NutsNew Practices To Promote Bee Health
November 7, 2014
Almond Board of California’s comprehensive documents offer practical steps for almond growers to take to protect bees. Read More
NutsUC-Davis Researchers Win Water Conservation Award
November 5, 2014
Almond Board has supported research by all four California scientists.  Read More
NutsPistachio Production Short Course Slated
November 5, 2014
Sessions are based on accepted science and designed for orchard decision makers. Read More
NutsA Look At Some Of The Challenges Of The 2015 Almond Sea…
November 5, 2014
Here are some of the disease and pests growers noted in almond orchards this year. Read More
NutsHow To Get Your Almond Orchard Ready For Next Year
November 5, 2014
Follow this checklist of winter almond orchard tips to make sure you’re ready for the next season. Read More
FruitsCalifornia Growers Sue State Over Drought
October 30, 2014
They claim the State Water Resources Control Board illegally denied water deliveries. Read More
FruitsHuge California Drought Meeting Planned
October 29, 2014
State, federal officials to meet as forecasts for the coming year look bleak. Read More